Iri dofu or iri doufu (炒り豆腐) is a simple, homely dish, real Japanese style ‘mother’s cooking’. Probably every Japanese home cook has his or her own recipe, but the base is plain tofu that is crumbled and then stirred around or gently stir fried (the iri 炒り part means that) until it resembles dry scrambled egg. In fact, it’s rather like the tofu version of iri tamago, but with more flavor and texture.
Iri dofu recipes often contain meat (usually pork), dashi or both, but here I have kept it vegan (in keeping with our vegetarian theme for May). I have added umami by including chopped dried shiitake mushrooms, miso and soy sauce. Garlic chives and ginger also add to the flavor, while the sansho pepper (also known as sichuan pepper) adds spice.
The best way to eat this is to simply pile it onto rice. Of course it’s perfect for a easy, healthy bento.
This makes about 3 cups. A 1/2 cup serving is around 150 calories.
At least an hour ahead or the night before, soak the shiitake mushrooms in water. Reserve the soaking liquid.
Chop the garlic chives or green onion, garlic (if you’re using it), and ginger. Cut the stems off the shiitake mushrooms and cut up the caps into small cubes.
Drain the tofu. Place on a plate, uncovered, and microwave on the HIGH or cook setting for about 3 minutes. This is an optional step that gets rid of a lot of the moisture, shortening the cooking time.
Heat up a large frying pan with the sesame oil. Add the chopped vegetables and sauté briefly.
Lower the heat to medium. Add the tofu, crumbling it with your hands. Sprinkle with the salt, which also helps to draw out the moisture from the tofu. Stir and crumble/cut up the tofu with your spatula as you stir it around. The tofu should start to resemble rather dry scrambled eggs.
While the tofu cooks, combine the miso, soy sauce and about 4 Tbs. or so of the mushroom soaking liquid, to make a smooth paste. Add to the pan and continue stirring, until the liquid is completely absorbed and the pan is dry. Finish off with a little ground sansho pepper or black pepper.
Let cool completely before using in a bento. (See it in a ‘donburi’ style bento.)
Make ahead note: I recommend making this the night before. You can store it for a couple of days in the refrigerator, but not longer, since tofu can spoil and/or pick up odors in the fridge. You can freeze it fairly successfully, though the tofu will get a bit spongy. Divide into individual portions for freezing, and use up within a month.
For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or
by email (more about subscriptions).
And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.